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What Makes The Perfect Pearl?

The pearl is one of the world’s most natural and precious beauties. They are without a doubt the most niche gemstones to exist in that they are unlike any other gemstone. Most precious metals and stones have to be mined from the earth’s crust, pearls on the other hand are created entirely by living creatures in the sea. It comes as no surprise then that the pearl is labelled the ‘Queen of gems.’

What Makes The Perfect Pearl?

Because of its uniqueness, the pearl is said to attract wealth and luck to its wearer, as the first pearl was believed to have been discovered by people searching the seashore for food. Following the 20th century, natural pearls became the most valuable gemstone, and today, natural gems such as the pearl still hold status due to their price and rarity. 

What are pearls made of?

Pearls are created by living organisms and their existence is one of nature’s greatest phenomenons known as ‘the teardrop of the gods.’ A pearl is produced when a foreign object is introduced into a mussel or an oyster, which starts a defence mechanism for the soft shellfish to protect itself from something that may damage it. The animal coats the irritant with a substance called nacre, the same material that makes up its shell. Layers of nacre build up to then make a pearl. Natural pearls like this are becoming increasingly rare, and most pearls sold today are now ‘cultured.’ Cultured pearls are man-made and formed by placing a tiny bead into the oyster’s shell to mimic the same process that would naturally occur in the sea. Today, there are three main types of cultured pearls that are commonly sold; freshwater pearls, Tahitian pearls, and south sea pearls.

What are freshwater pearls?

Freshwater pearls are derived from freshwater mussels and are mainly produced in China. Freshwater pearls also come in an assortment of pastel shades such as white, pink, peach, purple, and tangerine. The typical size of a freshwater pearl is 2mm - 16mm, with 7mm - 8mm being the most common. The larger a pearl is, the longer it has been cultivated. This also means that more layers of nacre have been applied by the mussel, which is often reflected in the price.

What are Tahitian pearls?

Tahitian pearls derive from the warm, tropical waters of French Polynesia. They are grown in black lipped oysters and are the only pearl that can achieve a black body colour naturally. Tahitian pearls are often rather large, ranging between 9mm - 16mm. The hues vary from black, grey, blue and purple. 

What are south sea pearls?

The most expensive pearl on the market is currently the south sea pearl. They are saltwater pearls cultivated from oysters found in the South Seas off Northern Australia and South East Asia. They can be larger than Tahitian pearls, and range between 10mm - 20mm, and have stunning silver and gold tones. South Sea pearls hold notoriety in the jewellery market and are extremely rare due to their stunning lustre and thick nacre. 

Choosing the perfect pearl

When seeking the perfect pearl jewellery for yourself, personal preference is always key, however, there are some things to consider to ensure you get the best out of your pearl jewellery so that it lasts a lifetime. The main things to look out for are colour, surface, lustre and colour.

Colour 

With a huge range of colours and tones available, choosing the right pearl can be tricky. As always, go with what makes you happy, but if you are a novice to the pearl game, then white is always the classic, timeless and versatile choice. It is said that Persian princesses would adorn themselves in white pearl necklaces. Or, think Audrey Hepburn’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s look that showcased her embellished with a multi-strand white pearl necklace and matching pearl earrings for the ultimate elegant jewellery set. 

Black pearls make a great alternative choice for those who want to stand out from the crowd or are missing something edgy from their jewellery collection. Made up of grey, green, and blue tones, black pearls have a beautiful exotic appeal that make great pieces for those darker, moody winter night events. 

Pink, peach and lavender shades however, are great fun and perfect for summer. Make sure when buying a strand of pearls that all the pearls match in colour for continuity and sophistication in your jewellery.

Shape

When buying cultured pearls, there are a few factors to consider to help you determine the value of your pearls. If you are looking at pearls that are perfectly rounded, then expect those to be of high value as they are highly sought after and will retain their value. That is not to say that unique and off round are extremely beautiful too and you can purchase baroque pearl bracelets and necklaces for a fraction of the price.

Surface

The surface of a pearl is another way to ensure your pearl is of great value. The cleaner the surface of the pearl, the better. As with everything, there may be imperfections, and while small scratches, scuffs and minor colour variations won’t detract from the pearl, it is important that these are not too noticeable as that will decrease the value. Be sure to also look out for tiny bumps on the surface and wrinkles where the nacre hasn’t formed smoothly as this can also decrease the overall value.

Lustre

We’re sure everyone has heard lustre and pearl mentioned in the same sentence. This is because they go hand in hand. When choosing pearls look for a high lustre and a high sheen, as the better the lustre the more the pearl will glimmer and shine. If the pearls you are buying have a high lustre you should be able to see yourself reflecting in them. It is important that your pearls don’t look dull as this will compromise how much they glimmer and sheen in the light. A poor surface, as mentioned before, will also affect the lustre of your pearls.

Size

When it comes to pearls, size matters. But remember, bigger isn’t always better. A good rule is to opt for around 7mm for women and slightly smaller for teenagers. As you get older, you are more likely to suit slightly larger pearls. However, find a size that suits you and is to your taste, there is such a variety of sizes you can’t fail to find something that will be perfect.


It is best to ensure you purchase your pearls from a reputable company, rather than getting hung up on brands as you will end up paying a lot extra for the branding rather than the pearl itself. Now that you know the important factors to consider when it comes to pearls, your search should be a lot less daunting. If you have any questions about pearls, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our team of professionals are ready to help with any questions, queries and advice.